SCHICKE, FUHRS &
FROHLING John O‘Regan
In the late 60s and early 70s a new sound
emerged in European rock styles. The German rock scene exploded
into life,on one hand you had the bands whose roots were in the
folk/rock boom of 1965/6 frorn that came Frumpy whose Anglo/American
sound,neatly complimented the newer more "experimental" sounds made
by bands such as Can,Tangerine Dream, Amon Duul II and Guru Guru.
With the later spreading out of "Kraut Rock" to incorporate the
inclusion of new inventions such as the meliotron and moog synth
a newer more spacy sound emerged.
The market for the spacy synth dominated
sound was developed by artists such as Klaus Schulze, Tangerine
Dream,and arch anarchist Ciuster.Late in 1976 these were joined
by a new "power trio" a band whose Vision crossed the borders of
rock folk jazz and progressive Music. They were SCHICKE FÜHRS
AND FRÖHLING or SFF for short.Their unique sound featured two
mellotrons,guitar, bass synths,drums and percussion, Their first
album "SYMPHONIC PICTURE showed some Tad/Dream styled explorations
je "Pictures" mixed wit shorter melodie compositions "Solution"
and "Sundrops‘! The 1977 follow up "SUNBURST" had some even more
sumptious moments with a Mahavisnu Orchestra like fire igniting
the cut and thrust,Their final trio album "TICKET TO EVERYWHERE"
had even more disperate strands with folk/World influences joining,
The proper son of Jan Michel Jarre‘s "Oxygene"."TICKET TO EVERYWHERE"
had the potential and appeal to be massive but somehow it wasn't
With the departure of EDE SCHICKE the remaining
duo of FHURS/ FRÜHLING recorded three more albums "AMMERLAND" "DIARY"
and "STRINGS" before splitting in 1982. They each persued different
careers HEINZ FRÖHLING opening his own music studio in Oldenburg.
GERD FUHRS becoming a demonstrator for Yamaha keyboards before his
tragic death in 1992. Though extremly popuiar in Germany as a live
attraction as weil as recording band SFF never caught on in a big
way outside. However they did have their ardent fans and recently
the compleat reeorded works of SFF have been made available on a
2 cd set. "THE COLLECTED WORKS OF SCHICKE, FÜHRS & FRÖHLING" couples
their three albums with some live cuts from the 1978 BRAIN festival
in Essen showing the live SFF capable of cutting with surgical precision,
1 had the pleasure of reviewing "THE COLLECTED WORKS" for the Terrascope
vol 4 no 4 and as a result decided to make someenquiries as regards
SFF. Through the courtesy of Heinz Georg Drenzler and Ulla Hoppe
of Metronome Musik GMBH‘s International Exploitation Department
in Hamburg 1 got an address for HEINZ FRÖHLING. Our subsequent corrispondance
yielded the following interview which sheds some light on a band
whose success should have been Worldwide and whose music still has
the power and ingenuity of the best 70s prog rock.
EDUARD SCHICKE GERD FÜHRS and HEINZ FRÖHLING
met for the first time in 1974. GERD at the time was keyboard player
with jazz—rock band Samspel was at a concert by Spektakel who had
HEINZ as the guitarist and EDE on drums. Next day Gerd went to the
SpektakeJ xnusic stores and knocked out both Heinz and Ede wiith
his technical virtuosity. The trio of SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING from
then on became a reality. 1 asked Heinz about his and SFF' s collective
"My influences were the Beatles, Stones,Cream,
Hendrix, Classics like Stravinski, Bruckner.The band's influences
were Emerson Lake And Palmer,Yes,Kirr.g, Crimson, and Gentle Giant".
J.O'R:"Frank Zappa was due to produce "SYMPHONIC
PICTURES",how did that come about?"
H.F:"A concert manager from Munich who organised
the German—Rock— Meeting 1975, as well as the Frank Zappa tour told
Zappa about SFF, and sent hirn a tape".
JO'R:"You put a lot of effort into the music
SFF recorded ‚as to build your own studio.Where was this studio?"
HF:"We didn't build our own studio.
We just lived together on an old farm in
the Country, where we had a lot of space to work and to develop
our music together".
JO'R:"Your hine up was very different to
the average band (Keys, guitar/bass and Drums). Was that intentional?"
HF:"At first we worked with a fourth musician—
a bass player.But at the end he couldn't follow our musical ideas
and developement. But we were so busy with our music that we had
no time looking for another bass player. That's because 1 built
this guitar/bass combination(Gibson Les Paul/Rickenbracker Bass).
Now 1 could do both jobs. When 1 had to play guitar or mellotron
it was Gerd who did the Bass part on Mmi Moog or Honer Basset. We
had two mellotrons to realise the Orchestral sound".
JO'R:"The music on "SYMPHONIC PICTURES" is
very experimental. How were the pieces written, and how hong did
lt take to record?"
HF:"Most of the pieces were written by Ede,Gerd
and me, We did part after part together like a puzzle. The recording
took one week. We didn't need any overdubs, we did it in one take','
JO'R:"Was "SYMPHONIC PICTURES" very successful
HF:"About 12,000 copies"
JO'R:"Did Hartwig Bierechel (NOVALIS drummer
and Metronome Record A&R Manager) sign you to Brain Records".
JO'R:"SUNBURST" was a very different album
musically. lt was very distinctive and full of life. lt was also
more jazzy, was that a reflection of where the group was going musically?"
HF:"I was very influenced by the Mahavishnu
Orchestra who came up at that time. We did a lot of improvisations.
For this record we took a Bass player. So we coul& concentrate on
our improvisationparts. The Bass player (Eduard Brumond—Ruther)
was known as and still is a very good jazz—musician."
JO'R:"EXPLORER" is rnay favourite track on
"SUNBURST". How did that oiece come to be written?"
HF:"I fiirst had the Bass—line then 1 found
the theme. Later 1 realised that lt reminds of Emma Peel and John
Steed's TV music ("The Avengers"). Gerd found the nice echo—effects
and Ede played the distinctive drum parts."
JO'R:"Did SFF prefer playing live or working
in the studio?"
HF:"The atmosphere of our live gigs was so
distinctive and intensive. Each of our concerts was a kind of adventure
JO'R:"Did you enjoy playing at the BRAIN
FESTIVAL in Essen in 1978?, Was SFF's set recorded and is there
a chance lt will be released as an album?"
HF:"It was great but we enjoyed it not as
much as any other of our gigs. All of our set was recorded but only
"EPLORER"/"WIZZARD was released on the Brain Sampler. ("BRAIN FESTIVAL"
double album ). Nowadays 1 don't even know if the tapes still exist(Metronome
should have them!"
JO'R:"SFF had an orchestral sound. Were your
musical influences from Gerrnan music(Synthesiser music) or British
HF:"British Progressive Rock."
JO'R:"The full colour sleeve for "SUNBURST"
was designed by who?"
HF:"It's an original Nasa—photo?"
JO'R:"You and Gerd recorded "AMMERLAND".
Was SFF still together as a group then?"
JO'R:"TICKET TO EVERYWHERE" was SFF's last
album. lt was the most instantly commercial sounding album you made.
Was the material written with a view to extending your audience?"
HF:"It's influenced by Alan Parsons Project
who came up at that Tine, We did it more as a studio project than
as a live band'.'
JO'R: "OPEN DOORS" and "SONG FROM INDIA"
and "HERE AND NOW" are my favourite tracks from "TICKET TO EVERYWHERE".
How did these pieces get to be written? What was the inspiration?"
HF:"The idea was to creat tracks with an
orchestral sound with rnore rock grooves than before. 1 took typical
elements of music from Spain,India and folk in general and put it
together as poprock tracks."
JO'R:"Did FUHRS & FROHLING ever play live
or were they a studio and recording band only?"
I-IF:"We did many live gigs, like German
tours with Kläus Schulze and Novalis and many club gigs all alone'
JO'R:"Will "AMMERLAND", "STRINGS" and "DIARY"
be released again?"
HF:"ANMERLAND" is already released"
JO'R:"How did Gerd Fuhrs die? Was lt an accident?"
HF:"It was an accident by car. Nobody knows
exactly how it happened
JO'R:"Are you still in contact with Ede Schicke?"
HF:"We play tennis every week."
JO'R:"Were you happy to see THE COLLECTED
WORKS OF SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING" being released?"
HF:"More than happy'!
JO'R:"How did the "COLLECTED WORKS" come
to be released?"
HF:"It was Ken Golden from the Laser's Edge,
some people from Metronome and me and my wife Claudia who prepared
this release for about one year.
JO'R:"Do you think SFF were ahead of their
JO'R:"Are there any more SFF live recordings
JO'R:"Finally did you think SFF were known
outside Germany or did you only play live in Germany?"
HF:"We only played in Germany,but 1 always
knew about our fans outside of Germany— like Japan,USA,Ireland,England,Belgium
... lt makes me very happy and proud."
The music of SFF has all the hallmarks of
Classic German rock music,the style the thought and the command
of their craft. They played with great sincerity and feeling and
whether its the experitnental strains of "SYMPHONIC PICTURES", the
jazzy fusions on "SUNBURST" or the Euro/Worldbeat elements of "TICKET
TO EVERYWHERE" the mark of quality is ever present. "AMMERLAND"
the only FUHRS & FROHLING album presently available has an ambience
that captures the quieter moments of their electic genious.It puts
the new agers to shame as cut in 1978 is still retains its melodic
power and beauty.
Since 1978 1 have been haunted and fascinated
by the music of SFF. With "EXPLORER" from "SUNBURST" as my initial
exposition to their collective prowess "THE COLLECTED WORKS OF SCHICKE
FUHRS & FROHLING" has been a source of delight. Their power and
grasp of dynamics put them up there with the major 70's progressive
giants. They were probably Germany`s bestkept secret but now the
secret``s out and the fruits are there for a new audience to enjoy.
Special thanks to HEINZ FRÖHLING for answering
the questions and HEINZ GEORG DRENZLER and ULLA HOPPE of Metronome
Musik GMBH International Exploitation Department. Hamburg Germany
for their help.